This Was A Bad Dream – Cambridge, 23rd January 2015

This was a bad dream right? Somebody please tell me this was a bad dream…

OK then, if you think I’m going to say a word about that shambles I and 1,300 (approx) other reds have just witnessed then you’ve been smoking some pretty strong stuff and I want some of it now brother/sister (equal rights, right?). Continue reading This Was A Bad Dream – Cambridge, 23rd January 2015

With A Stark Choice – Manchester 28th December 2014

It’s been 362 days since United last played Tottenham Hotspur and both games were very similar in the way they worked out, with one crucial difference: United didn’t lose this match. On New Year’s Day, United played Spurs off the pitch until getting caught with a sucker punch from Emmanuel Adebayor and eventually losing the match 2-1. This time around, with good chances missed by Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie, United could and should have been 3-0 up by the half time whistle. In the 68th minute, when Juan Mata ballooned a good chance so far over the bar that the ball ended up on Paxton Road, I was beginning to fear a Tottenham smash’n’grab akin to last year.

View from the United section of White Hart Lane (photo courtesy of Toby Cecil)

Well, that’s what should have happened. Tottenham, who with Mauricio Pochettino as manager, are a noticeably fitter side and finished the match the much stronger team. We ended up relieved at the 0-0 draw when, due to wasteful finishing from United, particularly in the first half, Continue reading With A Stark Choice – Manchester 28th December 2014

An Overcast Day And A Sultry Night – Manchester 14th of September 2014

Up to and including the match against City on the 2nd of November, there’s only one United match that is not being shown live on television. That is United’s next home match against West Ham in a couple of weeks. By then, United’s first six games will have been shown live on television. That is quite something for a side that finished 7th last season. No matter what is going on at Old Trafford, for good or bad, United are the biggest show in any town it happens to be.

The obituaries had been written about United over the summer, Continue reading An Overcast Day And A Sultry Night – Manchester 14th of September 2014

Grown men move on – Manchester United V Stoke City 20th of October 2012

Club football made a welcome return after the Paddies were murdered by Germany, the hilarious farce that went on in Warsaw on Tuesday just gone and last night’s incident at Hillsborough which reminded me of a similar event at the same stadium involving Paolo Di Canio and referee Paul Alcock in 1998.

Paul Alcock collapses in instalments from a push by Paolo Di Canio

Yesterday’s incident at Hillsborough summed up the verminous shithouses that follow Leeds United perfectly, a cowardly attack on an unsuspecting victim and the perpetrator was welcomed into the Leppings Lane stand by his fellow Leeds fans like a returning war hero. As for the attack itself, what kind of a punch/blow was that which landed on Kirkland? A seven year old girl could throw a better punch… Then there’s former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. Dearie me. I know from personal experience that it’s not the power of a punch or blow that can put you on your arse as much as the shock and surprise of one. If you’re slightly off balance and caught unawares by a hostile move, then it’s understandable but what I really want to know is why did Kirkland require such extensive medical attention? He was lying down for a good 2 or 3 minutes after that incident; it was nothing. In that situation you get over the shock pretty quickly and get up, more out of pride than anything else. On the photograph below, Kirkland is clutching the back of his head – why? He was slapped in the face! I look at people like Chris Kirkland and Robbie Savage and wonder what kind of street they grew up on?

Pain: Kirkland holds his face after the incidentLeeds fan Aaron Cawley applies the coup de grâce to a prostrate Chris Kirkland

On Tuesday passed, watching the farce unfold and subsequent waffle fest on ITV with Roy Keane, Adrian Chiles, Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate was more entertaining than any England match I’ve watched in the last eight years. The most enlightening thing we learnt was that Roy Keane had only brought one whistle with him and it’s also now plainly obvious that one of the make up people does his tie for him. The programme bounced back and forth between the studio and hapless pitchside reporter Gabriel Clarke, who was desperately asking questions to PR people who are expertly trained in the art of not giving answers.

Boyhood red Gareth Southgate alongside Lee Dixon and Roy Keane in Warsaw

The one comforting thing to emerge from Warsaw on Wednesday night was that it isn’t just the English authorities that can be staggeringly incompetent. Sometimes the weather can waterlog a pitch and in the vast majority of cases, there’s bugger all that can be done about it. The Kazimierz Gorski stadium in Warsaw has a roof to make sure that a pitch is playable come rain or shine. The roof was used for the entirety of the Euros just gone when the weather was mostly glorious but not used on Tuesday night when presumably the local met office might have given the stadium management the ‘heads up’ that it was going to piss down. Ah well, I’m sure they know better than me what’s going on.

Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi inspects the pitch in Warsaw on Tuesday night

Too often this season United are getting caught cold. When up against a decent side, like Tottenham for example, it becomes irretrievable. When up against a spirited but rubbish side like Stoke, as today proved, it can be recovered. United had better tighten up and do it quick as there’ll be no margin for error in forthcoming games against Chelsea and Arsenal. On 11 minutes, Paul Scholes gave away a soft free kick which, to use a hockey term, was effectively a short corner for former Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam. He crossed it brilliantly and it lead to Wayne Rooney heading the ball into his own net. Before Wayne Rooney equalised on 26 minutes, were it not for profligate finishing by Stoke, United could have been 3-0 down. Two goals either side of half time put United 3-1 in front. Robin Van Persie scored Uniteds’ second with a beautiful flick over Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic and Danny Welbeck headed United into a two goal lead. Just as United were threatening to run riot, Michael Kightly went past Rio Ferdinand on 58 minutes like he was a ghost to bring the score back to 3-2. Seven minutes later Wayne Rooney scored to wrap up both the goals for today and the week of the 10th anniversary of his first goal, a brilliant winner at Goodison against a Arsenal.

Wayne Rooney equalises on 26 minutes

Michael Owen came on for Michael Kightly on 74 minutes and I’m pleased to say that he was warmly if not rapturously received by United fans. Owen was never going to be unconditionally loved by United fans but fair play to him, since he left Old Trafford, he hasn’t said anything out of order. There was a chant from the stretty comparing Owens league title medal haul to that of Steven Gerrard. His most memorable moment for United came when he scored that injury time winner against City in September 2009. That day, my mobile phone nearly combusted with berties sending me angry text messages and conspiracy theories about how referees always play the match until United get the neccesary goal. Oddly enough, with todays winner for City at the Hawthorns deep into injury time and Sergio Aguero’s goal against QPR on the last day of the season just passed, City fans now have a more sanguine outlook on injury time. I wonder why ?

Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney exchange post match salutations

Rio Ferdinand today invoked the ire of his manager for his refusal to wear the Kick it out t-shirts which players were supposed to wear this weekend. Whatever Ferdinands reasons are for not wearing the shirt, it’s surely his right not to align himself to some tacky and toothless gimmick if he so wishes. The only shirt that Ferdinand wears that really matters is the United shirt. Does Ferguson really think that the refusal of (amongst others) Rio Ferdinand, Kenwyne Jones and Reading’s Jason Roberts to wear the shirts will have any impact on the increase or decrease of racism? The Kick it out campaign for this year commenced on Thursday just gone and finishes on the 29th of October. Why does it end then? Will the scourge of racism be cured by that time or will there be some other fashionable Cause célèbre that succeeds it? Sir Alex Ferguson, a man famous for rarely publicly rebuking his players claimed that Ferdinands refusal to wear the shirt was an embarrasment for him. Here was me originally thinking that Fergusons’ disapointment stemmed from Ferdinands refusal to back the campaign (whatever that is) but it turns out that his chagrin is down to his own personal embarrasment. This is surely not the same Sir Alex Ferguson who famously bats for his players against all comers. Anybody would think Sir Alex might not personally like Rio. Everybody knows that there was, to put it mildly, a fall out between Ferdinand and Sir Alex’s son, Darren a few years back. Grown men move on, don’t they Sir Alex ?

Rooney hat-tricks with passes from Carrick – Man United fans blog player review 2011 / 2012

(1) David De Gea

David de Gea pulls off a save for Manchester United against Athletic Bilbao

David De Gea saves against Athletic Club at Old Trafford

By the half time of David De Gea’s first class debut for United at Wembley in the 2011 Community Shield, he’d made two bad mistakes which had given City a 2-0 lead. The following week he’d made another bad error against West Brom which had contributed to their equaliser and the knives were already out for him. Undoubtedly a good shot stopper, his lanky physical presence and his early reluctance to assert his authority in the penalty area had people thinking United had signed another Massimo Taibi. Every keeper makes mistakes but any new keeper who comes to Old Trafford is going to be immediately, unfairly and virtually always negatively compared to the two great United number 1’s of the recent past, Peter Schmeichel and Edwin Van Der Sar. De Gea made further expensive mistakes against Basle in the Champions League, Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup and against Blackburn Rovers for which he was dropped immediately after. A couple of weeks later, De Gea had an inadvertant stroke of luck when the solid and reliable looking Anders Lindergaard, who’d taken De Gea’s place, suffered an ankle ligament injury. I believe this was the turning point for David De Gea. Since then he’s looked a better and more confident keeper and he’s made some outstanding saves, most memorably in the last minute at Stamford Bridge from Juan Mata and at Ewood Park with three world class saves in the first half alone. For all the doubt expressed about David De Gea in the first half this season, only once has a mistake of his actually cost United points and that was against Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Eve. As bad a mistake that was, that day, with the exception of Danny Welbeck, there was a whole team of players in red that had a stinker. I’m hoping our doughnut loving new keeper spends the summer getting to grips with his position at Old Trafford and has a long future there.

Continue reading Rooney hat-tricks with passes from Carrick – Man United fans blog player review 2011 / 2012